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ORANGE COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

There's Something Special in Tustin's Victory

Football: McCoy's play on special teams and defense lead Tillers past Santa Margarita, 35-14.

October 07, 2000|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tustin Coach Myron Miller thinks Matt McCoy is the best-kept secret in Orange County this season. But he won't be once game tapes of Tustin's victory Friday start circulating.

McCoy had a school-record seven sacks, batted down a pass and recovered a blocked punt in the end zone in the Tillers' 35-14 victory over seventh-ranked Santa Margarita in front of about 3,500 at Tustin High.

"Have you ever seen a more dominant player in a game," Miller asked afterward, savoring Tustin's first-ever victory over the team that eliminated the Tillers from the playoffs from 1995-98.

"He's faster than [heck], and he knocks the [heck] out of anything that moves. He's a missile."

McCoy, a senior running back and linebacker, was locked in on Santa Margarita quarterback Matt Dlugolecki, sacking him seven times for 43 yards in losses. Sacks by Steven Diaz and Ricky Miller accounted for 58 yards in losses.

"We didn't do a good job of protecting the quarterback," said Jim Hartigan, Santa Margarita's coach. "He was fighting for his life."

But if McCoy provided brute force in Tustin's physical performance against the Eagles, it was David Miller who provided some much-needed finesse for the Tillers.

Because of knee surgery, Miller made his first start of the season at quarterback Friday. He completed five of eight passes for 124 yards, providing a dimension to an offense that had relied almost exclusively on the run.

Miller's biggest completion was a 64-yarder to Chris Chester with 2 minutes 8 seconds left in the first half, which tied the score at 7-7.

"Once they threw the deep ball and completed it," Hartigan said, "they had us on our heels."

Did they ever. Tustin (4-1) outscored the Eagles (3-2) in the third quarter, 22-0. The Tiller defense limited Santa Margarita to a net three yards in the quarter while building a 29-7 lead.

Tustin opened the quarter with an 85-yard drive that included a 34-yard pass from David Miller to Ricky Miller, and a converted fourth-down run by Frostee Rucker, who finished with 119 yards in 12 carries. Rucker scored from two yards, then added a two-point conversion for a 15-7 lead.

After the Tiller defense held at the 19, Ricky Miller blocked Matt Vogel's punt and McCoy recovered in the end zone for a 22-7 lead. Four downs later, Tustin again got possession, and Rucker reeled off a 50-yard run. Kyle Dixon added the extra point.

"They're a physical football team, a good football team, and they got their offense rolling," Hartigan said. "We got outplayed and outcoached."

Dlugolecki completed 14 of 23 passes for 162 yards, and had two short passes turned into 41-yard touchdown runs by Tyler Thompson in the first quarter and Curtis Cooper in the fourth.

Ricky Miller added a 46-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.

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